As the full scale of the government’s changes to voter registration take effect, Green councillors will take to the streets on Friday to encourage people to register to vote. Greens will be handing out hundreds of cards to students and passers-by with information on how to register to vote1 at the University of West of England’s Bower Ashton campus.
Bristol City Council figures show that on 1st December 2015, 316,414 people were registered to vote in Bristol – a reduction of 2,726 from the 319,140 individuals on the December 2014 electoral register. The government’s changes also mean that Bristol City Council had to remove 6,857 individuals because they had not successfully been transferred to the new system of Individual Electoral Registration (IER)2.
Councillor Ani Stafford-Townsend, leader of the Green group of councillors said:
“We are hugely grateful to the enormous effort of the council’s electoral services department, because the number falling off the register could have been much, much higher. My ward, Cabot, has the most unregistered residents, and we will use the time before the registration deadline on Monday 18th April to get as many people there registered to vote as possible.”
Rob Telford, councillor for Ashley ward and a steering committee member of the national organisation Electoral Reform Society said:
“The government’s changes will have a significant impact on those Bristol residents who are in temporary accommodation or who are semi-permanently based in the city – for example, students and homeless people. We think it’s crucial that all political parties use their volunteer base to encourage as many people to register to vote as possible, regardless of who they say they will vote for. Bristol has a thriving, multi-party democracy and it will only remain that way if we stay vigilant and enthusiastic about the positive decisions that citizens can make at the ballot box.”
Tony Dyer, Green Party Mayoral candidate said:
“The introduction of Individual Electoral Registration marks a significant change to the way we run elections in the UK. Analysis by the Electoral Commission has shown that areas with high levels of students, young people and private renters are most at risk of low registration levels, and as a result voting outcomes that may not represent the views of their resident population. Special care must be taken to ensure at-risk groups are able to have their say at elections. This should be a priority for all those who truly believe in the democratic process.”